unexpected intrusions of beauty
You’re six years old and at sleepaway camp for the first time, watching the clock on the wall go tick-tick-tick and trying not to panic. Suddenly, your eyes are wide, brain filled with thoughts of ghosts and monsters and kidnappers and the thought I’mgoingtodie over and over again, on infinite loop. The fifty miles between you and your warm, safe, happy bedroom – the one with the Tinkerbell nightlight and walls your favorite shade of pink – might as well be a universe.
Dear God, you whisper, thinking of your Sunday School teacher and her warm, reassuring smile, Pleasedon’tletmedietonightplease. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
You wake up the next morning fully intact, and at six years old, it’s a real miracle.
You’re sixteen, and, as far as you’re concerned, he’s perfect. And he stays perfect, right up until he shows up on a Friday night, throws you up against the wall and starts unbuttoning your shirt, fingers slow and reckless from the alcohol.
God saves you, you tell yourself. God saves you because he didn’t, because he was too drunk, too slow, too shameless when the door flew open and your friends stormed in. You pray these thanks, and you try and ignore all He didn’t save you from that night. You try and forget about the burn of his hands, the way his smirk didn’t reach his eyes. And on some nights, you succeed.
You’re nineteen, still wholly enchanted by the magic of college, and you’re so blinded by the rose-tinted blindfold of freedom that you don’t even notice when you end up in a less-than-reputable part of town. The next thing you know, someone’s screaming into your ear and you can barely make out the words cash, shoot, now over the rushing in your ears before you realize that you are so, so, so screwed.
The rest of the night is a blur of limbs and kicking, screaming, praying. And by the time you’re at the police station, you’re so full of adrenaline that you think of how lucky you are to have escaped with only a gash down your side and broken ribs. Thank You, you think, for keeping me alive.
Your last thought, as a strange man with cold hands and colder heart pins you down, as you see a knife come down from his hand and find daggers in his eyes, as you feel cold, sharp pain at your throat and gasp crimson air:
God will save me.
God will save me.